Colorado Rights Blog


  • Cedric Watkins is a father, uncle, entrepreneur-in-training, and a vital community pillar for many others. While behind bars, he has tirelessly devoted himself to serving his peers and his community. He developed gang disaffiliation programs for other incarcerated individuals and is currently involved with Defy Ventures. He sends letters and calls his daughter as much as he can.

    Cedric is currently in prison at Sterling Correctional Facility. He was convicted of aggravated robbery, burglary, kidnapping, theft and sentenced to 80 years; no one was seriously injured or killed. For comparison, a person convicted of second-degree murder in Colorado faces a maximum sentence of 48 years. Cedric has already served 20 years and has fully rehabilitated during that time.

    It’s time to bring Cedric home: Redemption is real. Clemency is compassion.

  • On November 21, 2016, 13 Aurora police officers responded to a simple noise complaint at Alberto Torres’s home. As happens all too often, Aurora police officers escalated this minor issue into a brutal affair. They beat Mr. Torres solely because he delayed exiting his garage to ask his wife to interpret for him. With that beating, the lives of Mr. Torres and every member of his family were changed and he has yet to recover. ACLU of Colorado fought to obtain justice for Mr. Torres, and Aurora has now paid him $285,000. But money is not justice, and the brutality of the Aurora Police Department against people of color has continued unabated.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Imagine, if instead of 13 officers being dispatched to Mr. Torres’s home for a noise complaint, the City of Aurora sent a civilian-led response team to check on his welfare and ask that he and his friends lower their sound, resulting in a non-violent solution to a minor issue?

    ACLU Settles Case With Aurora After Police Brutalize and Unlawfully Arrest Alberto Torres

  • Hope is a discipline. It’s a commitment that together, we can create a more perfect union. We won’t rest until we fulfill the promise of equal rights for ALL people in the United States.

    Join us in our fight to fulfill this promise and move forward with hope by donating to the ACLU of Colorado. Your donation supports the ACLU’s strengths that make our work effective and collaborative.

    Donate now at

  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 

ACLU of Colorado to Honor John Parvensky, Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, and Gail Johnson as 2016 Civil Rights Award Recipients

DENVER – The ACLU of Colorado is pleased to announce that John Parvensky, Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, and Gail Johnson will receive our 2016 Civil Rights Awards, which will be presented at the Bill of Rights Dinner on Thursday, October 13th at the Four Seasons Hotel in Denver.

John Parvensky will receive the Carle Whitehead Memorial Award in recognition of his lifetime of accomplishments working as an advocate for the rights and needs of people experiencing homelessness. Parvensky has served as President of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless since 1986, directing programs that deliver supportive housing together with integrated healthcare, mental healthcare, and substance treatment services to 15,000 homeless, men, women, and children each year. He spearheaded the production of 16 integrated housing developments that combine high-quality housing for homeless individuals and families with affordable units for community residents with lower incomes, resulting in homes for 2,300 households. He serves as President of the Board of Directors of the National Coalition for the Homeless and as a member of Denver’s Commission to End Homelessness.

“One of the toughest challenges facing Colorado is meeting the basic needs of the most vulnerable among us and ensuring that they are connected to housing and services, not funneled into courts and jails,” said ACLU of Colorado Executive Director Nathan Woodliff-Stanley.  “John Parvensky has been working tirelessly for more than 30 years to find innovative, collaborative solutions to that challenge, and we are thrilled to recognize his many successes and accomplishments.”

Senator Jessie Ulibarri will receive the Ralph Carr Award recognizing his leadership and dedication as a community organizer and a legislator advocating for social justice, voting rights, LGBT rights, and racial equality. As a state senator, he has successfully authored and passed into law 39 pieces of legislation, including protecting the rights of workers, expanding access to affordable housing, safeguarding civil liberties, and ensuring full access to the ballot box. He will be leaving the state legislature after this term. Prior to joining the State Senate, Ulibarri spent a decade leading community organizing and public policy efforts, including as the Public Policy Director at the ACLU of Colorado and State Director at Mi Familia Vota.

“Senator Ulibarri is one of the strongest, most passionate civil libertarians in the Colorado legislature,” said ACLU of Colorado Public Policy Director Denise Maes. “His voice and presence will be missed at the Capitol, but we proudly recognize his substantial impact and know that he will continue fighting on for the rights of all Coloradans.”

Gail Johnson will receive the Edward Sherman Award in recognition of her work on behalf of prisoners’ rights and justice for people who are wrongly accused and incarcerated. Johnson is the managing partner of Johnson, Brennan & Klein in Boulder. She has two decades of experience representing clients in criminal and civil cases in state and federal courts. In three actual-innocence cases, she obtained orders for new trials for clients based on constitutional violations and newly discovered evidence. She is a member of the Criminal Justice Act panels for the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

“Gail Johnson’s distinguished career is marked by numerous victories in the courtroom for defendants who are wrongly accused, prisoners who are unjustly convicted, and inmates who are abused and mistreated,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein. “We are proud to honor her significant contributions to the pursuit of a more just and fair criminal justice system in Colorado.”

The Bill of Rights Dinner will feature a keynote presentation from Dale Ho, Director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project.  The ACLU of Colorado would also like to recognize and thank our Circle of Liberty Sponsors Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP.

For more information about the event, purchasing tickets, or becoming a sponsor, please contact Rachel Pryor-Lease at 720-402-3105 or

Return to News